Giancarlo Fisichella admits he was 'a little bit confused' by the circumstances of his performance in practice for the United States Grand Prix as both himself and Renault team-mate Heikki Kovalainen finished the day somewhat off the pace.

Kovalainen led the reigning champion's charge with the eighth fastest time in the afternoon, but Fisichella featured well outside the top ten in each session.

Much of this was to do with a lengthy tyre evaluation necessary for the demanding Indianapolis circuit, but even so Fisichella admitted he expected to see more pace coming from the softer Bridgestone tyre in comparison to the harder one.

"I must admit that I came out of the session a little bit confused," he said. "You always expect to find more grip when you run the softer tyre, but I didn't feel a big step in performance today, and we will have to work this evening to understand why. The car had quite a lot of understeer this morning, and we have worked to get rid of it step by step.

Still, Fisichella comes to the seventh round of the championship with confidence having shown improved pace in Monaco and Montreal and although he admits he is not yet comfortable with the car after the first two practice sessions, he is expected to get there by the race.

"There are still some improvements to be made, but we are getting there. I had a very positive feeling last week in Montreal, and it is not the same here today. The times make the situation look worse than it is, because I was held up on my quickest lap, but I think it is going to be a tougher race in terms of competitiveness than last weekend."

Kovalainen meanwhile had a more trouble-free opening day than he did in Canada, the Finn also expecting more to come from the Renault package, not least because qualifying is expected to be one of the closest of the season.

After the problems last week in Canada, this was just the kind of day I wanted: no technical problems, and lots of laps on the board. We got a lot done, and improved the car with every run. There is still a little way to go in order to dial out some of the understeer we are suffering from, but we will work hard overnight to find some more performance. It was important to have a trouble-free day because this is another new track for me.

"We know from the past that the lap-times here are always extremely close in qualifying, because it is such a short lap. That means it will be vital to get 100% out of the car tomorrow afternoon - and I am confident we can do it."

 

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